Category: Information Technology

Policies for eLearning

I am listening to a podcast of a 2005 EDUCAUSE session at their annual conference entitled How E-Learning Policies Can Reduce Faculty Workloads and Keep E-Learning Courses Running Smoothly.

The speaker is Shirley Waterhouse, the Executive Director,
Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Their website also showcases many projects and initiatives pointing to best practives. She also is the executive director of
eLearningGlobal (this site provides details about her book).

7 Policy topics (from the podcast, toward the end)
– Daily routine: exchanging with students, email notifications, submitting assignments
– Students privacy: consent and sharing information with 3rd parties
– Email policies: answering emails, manage students expections wih regards to answers, discussion policies (will the instructor read everything)
– Assignment policy: when due, format, etc. (do it beforehand)
– Tech help policy: where and when to get it (e.g. what happens if the LMS is down when I want to subit my assignment)
– Code of conduct: student discussion, etiquette, netiquette, innapropriate, etc.
– Intellectual proprety issue: copyright, ownership, sharing

Her book and articles cover these topics in greater detail. These items seem more like the kinds of things a course outline or general procedure would cover. But they are interesting nonetheless.

Recommends the copyright resources from Indiana University.

Digital distractions, iPads and other toys in the classroom

A must read: Clay Shirky’s verbose and well argued post on “Why I just asked my students to put their laptops away”. Clay Shirky is an author and academic interested in digital and social media.

In the same line of thought, I really liked this podcast (in French) of Montréal tech journalist and consultant Martin Lessard with Sébastien Wart who works for the Montréal school board as a technologist. They refer to the SAMR model (aka: Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition Model) for employing effectivee technological tools in the classroom. According to the Technology Is Learning website (where Martin Lessard point to), the SAMR model developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura :

Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition Model

Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition Model

Four ideas to reshape the university with IT

I really enjoyed this short clip from the good people at Educause about 4 ideas to reshape higher ed:


This is the gist of the talk:

IMG_0100.PNG

I also really enjoyed this paper about three possible futures for higher ed: one where universities are either virtual or blended; one where digital technology offers a kind of renaissance of creation where storytelling, game design and social media seamlessly integrate into a learning experience; and the one where health care takes over (I didn’t like that one so much).

Apple watch and academic integrity

Beyond being a simple object of desire, the announced Apple Watch will be in classrooms around the world soon enough, as Rebecca Koening from the Chronicle of Higher Education points out.

I love some of the comments made by the experts she interviews, in particular Teresa Fishman, director of the International Institute for Academic Integrity at Clemson University as well as David M. Levy, a professor in the Information School at the University of Washington, who teaches a class called “Information and Contemplation.” Both advocate for a shift in teaching strategies.

And, yeah, I really desire an Apprle Watch althought I am not certain I would effectively use it in my daily life. And of course, you’re always better off waiting for the secound iteration of any Apple tech, you wouldn’t want to pay a high price to debug their device… this is the cost of Apple love.

Gazing into the cristal ball: NMC Horizon report for libraries

The New Media Corporation (NMC), in collaboration with the University of Applied Sciences (HTW) Chur, Technische
Informationsbibliothek (TIB) Hannover, and ETH-Bibliothek Zurich, announces the publication of the NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Library Edition (PDF, 56 pages).

This report outlines the technicological changes as well as the solvable, difficult and wicked challenges facing libraries in the next 5+ years. For example, under trends affecting libraries in the next 2 years, they cite the increasing focus on research data management for publications and the prioritization of mobile content and delivery.

Under “solvable” challenges, they indicate embedding academic and research libraries in the curriculum and rethinking the roles and skills of librarians.

I’ve followed these Horizon repprts before and I am happy to now see a report on libraries. The education ones provided for interesting matter to reflect upon.

Using Word with Style (MS Word ™ 2007 edition)

This is a worksheet I prepared for a presentation about creating table of contents in MS Word. The structured text is below, but you can also use these versions :
Using MS Word (2007) with Style (PDF)
Using MS Word (2007) with Style (.doc)

Using microsoft word with style

Outline

Creating a table of contents

– Establishing title structure

– Removing superfluous formatting symbols and styles

– Applying styles to reflect title structure

– Dividing the document: multiple page number formatting

– Inserting and managing your table of contents

Creating a list of figures

Creating an index

Creating a table of contents

Establishing title structure

Before you start writing, think about the structure of your document, such as the different sections and sub-sections. For example, the introduction section could have sub-sections which include an opening, a problem statement or research question, a literature review, etc.

This step does not involve Microsoft Word and is rather an effective writing method.

Removing superfluous formatting symbols and styles

If you are copying text from another document, make sure it is cleared of all formatting and other superfluous formatting symbols, such as empty paragraphs.

A good method if to use: Home > (Clipboard) Paste Special > Unformatted Text

Also, you could show the paragraph marks: Home > (Paragraph) ¶

Applying styles to reflect title structure

Use the style browser to apply a title level to each section titles and sub-section titles. Section titles are “Title 1” and sub-section titles are “Title 2”.

The style browser: Home > (Styles)

Dividing the document: multiple page number formatting

First, you must divide your document into different sections. Insert section breaks to a new page: Page Layout > (Page Setup) Breaks > (Section Break) Next Page

Then, access the page footer to make it different than the previous:

Insert > (Header & Footer) Footer > Edit Footer

Toggle this option: Design > (Navigation) Link to previous

This allows having different page numbering styles. Now, for each section, you need to do two things. First, you need to configure each footer’s page numbering style (Roman numerals, Arabic numerals, letters). Second, you need to insert the page number. Here’s how:

  1. Format page numbering for section: Insert > (Header & Footer) Page Number > Format Page Number
    1. Select the desired Number Format
    2. Select Start at 1 (toggle from Continue from Previous Section)
  2. Insert page number in the section: Insert > (Header & Footer) Page Number…

Repeat for each section with page numbers (you can have a section with no page numbers).

Inserting and managing your table of contents

Now, once you have applied styles to your section and sub-section titles and the formatting of the page numbers for each section, you are ready to insert the table of contents:

References > (Table of Contents) Table of Contents > Insert Table of Contents

This will open the table of contents dialog box. You can select a Format for your table of contents as well as cluck on the Options button to decide which “title levels” to include.

If you later change your document, you can update the table of contents with a click of the mouse. Just hover the cursor over the table of contents and activate the contextual menu (“right-click”) and select Update Field > Entire Table.

Creating a list of figures

First, below each figure, insert a caption:

References > (Captions) Insert Caption

Then, insert a table of figures:

References > (Captions) Insert Table of Figures

To update the table of figures, just hover the cursor over the table of contents and activate the contextual menu (“right-click”) and select Update Field > Entire Table.

Creating an index

First, manually go through your text. Each time you refer to a concept you want included in the index, mark the entry:

References > (Index) Mark Entry

Then, insert an Index:

References > (Index) Insert Index

To update the index, just hover the cursor over the table of contents and activate the contextual menu (“right-click”) and select Update Field > Entire Table.

 

Keeping current (With RSS Feeds)

I am giving a “brown bag” session today for the Management Department of the John Molson School of Business about “keeping current”.

Here is the outline of my talk:
Some warming up exercises (because we have to talk about theories)
General information about RSS Feeds
Subscribing to RSS Feeds
RSS Feeds and Scholarly sources (a journal’s table of contents, filtering and Google Alerts)
A short video explaining the process of subscribing and reading RSS Feeds

Warming up exercises (theories are useful to organise one’s thoughts)

This initially made me think of Robert Darnton’s account of the Communication Circuit as well as Beaudry’s theories on relationships between authors and other agents in digital publishing (see images below). These models present how authors interact with others in scholarly communication.

20130307-113720.jpg

Darnton, Robert. “What Is the History of Books?” Daedalus, Vol. 111, No. 3, Representations and Realities (Summer, 1982), pp. 65-83
See also an updated account:
Darnton, Robert “What is the history of books? Revisited” in Modern Intellectual History, 4,3(2007), pp. 495–508 2007, Cambridge University Press
doi:10.1017/S1479244307001370

20130307-112055.jpg

Beaudry, Guylaine. La communication scientifique et le numérique, Paris : Hermès science publications / Lavoisier, 2011, p. 250


But enough with theories, let’s talk about keeping current with RSS Feeds !

The best tool I can offer to stay current are RSS Feeds (see this great Wikipedia article for a summary). Essentially, RSS is a technology which focuses on the structure of information and eliminates the formatting. Once this happens, you can simply obtain the address of the RSS feed and aggregate content with special software. So, instead of having to browse to multiple websites, you can configure a system to compile content for you.

Here is a video explaining what RSS Feers are:

More on RSS Feeds from Wikipedia To locate RSS Feeds on a website, one needs to locate the address of the various feeds available. These are either located in a special section of the website or readily available from a page you are browsing. Usually, the RSS feed link is next to a bright orange icon with white waves, as is illustrated here.

A good place to start is by looking for RSS feeds from your favorite media outlets, such as the CBC, the BBC, Le Devoir or other sources. Some media sites also have featured blogs which one can subscribe to via RSS feeds.

Subscribing to RSS Feeds
In order to read these RSS feeds, one should use an RSS feed aggregator. This is a special kind of software which simply compiles all new content for you to read at your leasure. Think of it as an email software.

Personally, I use Google Reader to aggregate my RSS feeds. I also use FeeddlerPro to optimize my consumption of RSS feeds on my iPhone. This being said, there are hundreds of possibilities to aggregate and thousands to consume RSS feeds.

This is what happens when I go on vacation for a few days, my RSS content accumulates:

20130307-111002.jpg


Subscribing to RSS Feeds from scholarly sources

Broadly speaking, there are two options to subscribe to RSS feeds of scholarly sources. You can
1. find the RSS feed address for the table of contents of your favorite journals by looking for the publisher’s website; or
2. set-up RSS feed alerts through article aggregator systems, such as, at Concordia University, ProQuest Business Databases or EBSCO’s Business Source Complete.

For the first option, subscribing to the full table of content means that you would be getting all articles as they are published in each issue. This may be cumbersome or yeild in too many items to read. That is why the second option is interesting: you can simply execute a search and obtain the RSS feed address by looking for that option from the Search History link on the search interface.


This short video demonstrates what I have explained in this post :

In closing, here is a list of my subscriptions I included on my other blog, Culturelibre.ca.

So… how do students and profs use technology anyway?

Last May, CRÉPUQ published the results of a study on the attitudes of university students and professors towards technology. The association of Quebec university presidents sponsored the study, which sought to obtain statistically valid information on a broad sample.

University Affairs, a trade publication, interviewed Concordia University’s own Vivek Venkatesh last November and this January about the study, in which he was involved as a researcher. For example, he mentions that:

Our study was not designed to demonstrate the effectiveness of any one (or set of) instructional technique(s) over others. We set out to – and have succeeded in creating – robust, generalizable and predictive models of factors that impact attitudes towards university course effectiveness. Prior research (for example, Wright and Jenkins-Guarnieri, 2012) has analyzed the findings of 11 meta-analyses (193 studies) on student evaluations of teaching, or SETs, with a specific focus on their construct validity, susceptibility to bias, practical use and effective implementation. Their research provides support for the use of SET measures in evaluating instructor skill and teaching effectiveness.

We strongly believe that with a large enough representative sample and a probabilistic sampling strategy, which we have used in our study, gathering students’ perceptions on course effectiveness is a valid measure because it can reflect the reality of what is happening in the classroom – or, dare we say, what should be happening in the classroom. There have been various comments, both as a response to the UA article, as well as in the larger web sphere regarding the generalizability of our results due to a purportedly biased sample and the fact that our research was designed to reach specific conclusions. These assertions are simply untrue and bear very little logic.

You can also listen to a full interview of Vivek Venkatesh on CBC’s Spark.

A further paper will be submitted to the Journal Computers & Education.